Silence your inner critic…by listening to it (+ The Dreamer Creed)
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” ― George Bernard Shaw
Ever have that moment when an amazing idea or realization hits you with such a force, it feels like an intense power is just rushing through your body?
You feel unstoppable. Like you can tackle just about anything. So, you dive right in and put all your energy into it.
But as you start going deeper with the idea, the mood transforms. Maybe issues you didn’t see before start cropping up. Questions you didn’t think to ask start making their way in. Things aren’t turning out the way you imagined. Concern and worry start replacing your enthusiasm with your good ol’ friend, your inner critic.
Sure, on the decent days, maybe you can easily brush the critic aside. But when the road gets particularly difficult, sometimes your negativity completely steals the driver’s seat.
What have I gotten myself into? Why the hell did I think I could handle this? There’s so much work to do. I don’t have enough time. I’ll never keep up…
This is what I worried over even before I started learning how to do 3D printed art (read about my first adventure into 3D printing here). Yes, I was excited by the thought of 3D printing and all the amazing things I could make, but once I started doing the research my excitement got shaky…because there was a lot I didn’t know.
The more I realized how much of a novice I was, the more I feared. Before I even gave myself a shot to learn how to 3D model, I started to tell myself that I’d be an idiot for even considering the medium. Soon enough, my thoughts took an even more self-defeating turn…
I’m just not qualified because I don’t have any art or design degrees. Oh no! What if the real 3D modelers think I’m a joke?! What if other artists laugh at me for being in the artist space despite never having done any art professionally in my life? What if people think I’m a big flake for jumping around to different mediums so suddenly?
My friends and family will think I’m delusional for pursuing something like 3D printing. It’s too hard for someone like me…and the learning curve is way too high. There’s simply too much I don’t know!
Maybe I shouldn’t even bother…
I was so afraid of what other people might think that I nearly stopped myself before I even bothered starting…and it would have come at a great cost.
I had already thrown away two months just worrying and thinking about 3D printing…not actually trying it. But my sister (love her so much!) got pretty fed up with my irrational anxieties and imagined fears. With a lot of effort, she eventually made me realize that I’d get a lot more answers if I took a stab at it instead of wasting more months worrying about “what might happen.”
Looking back, I realize now how much I would have missed out on… The most interesting thing is that I went into 3D printing only wanting to make a Dreamer Mask just for myself. But it quickly opened up more paths and opportunities I would never have imagined. I mean, here are just some of the things that happened within less than a year:
- I won my first competition within the first month of being in the world of 3D printing, which led to a licensing agreement with Adobe
- I’ve gotten coverage on most major 3D printing industry sites and even got a mention in Forbes
- I’ve been asked to do interviews and speak on workshops/panels (still always surprises me)
- I helped with the aesthetic design for Natasha Hope Simpson’s prosthetic leg
- I had the opportunity to work with the talented musician, Jihae, and director, Agnieszka Vosloo, on a music video, It Just Feels, starring actor Norman Reedus from AMC’s The Walking Dead
- I’ve even had an overseas company try to rip off my 3D printed artwork
- And there are still more projects underway…
Sure, there was also the possibility that nothing interesting would have happened if I started 3D printing. Or maybe something else would have opened up if I just stuck with my black & white ink drawings. I’ll never know.
But the point is that I took a chance. And it shook up my world in ways I never expected.
What this also showed me was that I needed to do some serious work on reframing my doubts and fears. And If I wanted to keep climbing higher, I realized that I can’t always depend on someone like my sister to help me snap out of it (after all, she has her own things to worry about).
I need my mind to always be my #1 ally and help me stay true and focused on my dreams instead of my fears.
And being a rather emotional and sensitive person, I knew it wasn’t enough to try and force myself to “be more positive”…so I decided to write a Dreamer Creed that I could look to whenever I feel useless or powerless.
The Dreamer Creed is for those who have big dreams and even bigger (internal/external) critics. I hope this can get your courage and confidence back on track when fear and doubt get in your way.
“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” ― Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
If you’re fighting for your dreams, you always need to have your mind on your side. Of course, we’re all human and no one is completely immune to fear, self-doubt, and criticism. Every now and then we’re all bound to get a little too caught up in our negative self-talk when we’re facing new challenges.
But constantly worrying about “what might happen” and getting caught up in imagined fears can be a major time suck and a dangerous distraction. That’s why I decided to write the Dreamer Creed to help you stay focused on what matters most― taking action on your dreams (and it’s a little inspired by the song, Imagine, by John Lennon).
So, whenever the critics throw some variation of the same old fears in your face and try to paralyze you with worry, just remember that they’re only telling one side of an argument. So, listen to what the critic has to say and ask yourself, “why is it saying that?” Then turn its words on its head by pointing out why its concerns are irrational. Offer it an alternate view…and maybe even a bit of peace of mind.
I did that here with my Dreamer Creed. And I hope it can also remind you that there’s a whole other side of the discussion that the critics are missing out on (read the full Dreamer Creed text below the image):
YOU MAY SAY I’M A DREAMER, BUT I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE.
You may say I can’t change the world, but I will start by helping causes I believe in.
You may say I need to stop dreaming, but dreams are previews into life’s possibilities.
You may say everything’s already been done, but anything can be seen in a new light.
You may say we’ve heard it all before, but learning to listen reveals what isn’t being said.
You may say my ideas are risky, but nothing remarkable comes from always playing it safe.
You may say I should be realistic, but innovation always needs a bit of fantasy.
You may say I need to find the right tools first, but tools are useless without a clear mission.
You may say my endeavors could be a mistake, but mistakes are often building blocks in disguise.
You may say I should wait until I know enough, but expertise is built through trial and error.
You may say my work won’t appeal to everyone, but creations designed for everyone will touch no one.
You may say I’ll never be as good as my competitors, but I am here to be better than myself yesterday.
You may say this might not work out, but every experience brings me closer to what will work.
You may say I’ll never make it big, but big wins are built on a foundation of small successes.
You may say I’ll never find the right path, but wrong turns can lead to unexpected adventures.
You may say I’ll be in over my head, but focusing on present priorities will keep me on higher ground.
You may say I’ll end up embarrassing myself, but what others think cannot overpower how I choose to feel.
You may say my efforts might be a waste of time, but the only waste is to live a life filled with regret.
You may say I might fail, but the greatest failure would be the unwillingness to try.
You may say dreams are pointless, but dreams inspire humanity to keep leaping forward.
You may say no one can really build their dreams, but I say, “just watch me.”
Dreams inspire. Dreams empower. Dreams matter.
Because dreams can make a difference.
I HOPE SOMEDAY YOU’LL JOIN US, AND THE WORLD WILL BE AS ONE.
In the end, the internal & external critics may have their opinions and judgments about you and what you do, but their words do not define you or your work…unless you let them.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ― Thomas A. Edison
What you have to offer matters. It may not look “perfect” or “right” the first time (or even the first 10 or 20 times). But that’s okay.
If you’ve been following Lumecluster since the beginning, you might remember that this site used to look like shit. In fact, it used to be just me whining and complaining about random stuff (under a different name) because that’s what I thought blogging was all about. My earlier Lumecluster versions didn’t have any ink drawings or any kind of art either.
It was good enough for the stage I was in and it’s awful when I look back at it now. But I needed those to happen before I could realize how much better I could make it…and to realize that things can be different if I actively seek out the possibilities.
There will always be unexpected bumps and road blocks along your journey. Just remember that you can also find a way around them. And guess what? Your inner critic will always be riding with you, but you don’t have to be worried about it.
Your inner critic is just scared of the road ahead. What it doesn’t realize is that it needs you to comfort it…and maybe it’ll just start getting excited with you 🙂 And when you look back at how far you’ve come, you’ll wonder why you ever worried about anything in the first place.
YOUR TURN: What’s your inner critic saying to you that’s holding you back? Now stop, think, and ask yourself why are you saying this to yourself in the first place?
Then dig deeper… What’s the simplest thing you can you say or do right now to ease its fear or change its tone?